SPRINGFIELD — A Southern Illinois judge lifted an injunction Wednesday that had been stopping Gov. Pat Quinn from shuttering prison facilities in Tamms, Dwight, Murphysboro, Decatur and Carbondale, but the union opposing the move vowed to continue its legal battle.

Alexander County Associate Circuit Judge Charles Cavaness dissolved his earlier order in compliance with a Dec. 12 Illinois Supreme Court ruling, paving the way for the governor to move forward with the budget-cutting closures in the coming weeks.

“The taxpayers of Illinois are the real winners today,” Quinn said in a prepared statement. “Our state is facing unprecedented financial pressures and closing these facilities is one part of the long-term solution.”

Aides offered no timetable Wednesday for when the transfer of inmates and staff might begin, but staff at Tamms suggested the movement of inmates there could begin within the next few days.

Quinn said closing the super-max prison in Tamms, the all-female facility in Dwight, the youth prison in Murphysboro and two transitional centers in Carbondale and Decatur will save an estimated $100 million annually.

In reaction, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union said Cavaness’ decision was only a partial victory for Quinn.

In his ruling, the judge rejected a motion by the state to completely dismiss a lawsuit that questions the closures at a time when state prisons are already overcrowded.

“With more than 49,000 inmates in facilities built for just 32,000, closing any prison will worsen severe overcrowding throughout the correctional system and make the remaining prisons more dangerous for employees, inmates and the public,” noted AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall.

“The court today rejected the state’s motion to dismiss the union’s suit that stems from our grave concerns for health and safety if these closures go forward. We will continue to vigorously pursue that case.”

State Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, was dismayed by the ruling, saying he isn’t sure anything else can be done to stop the closures.

“If there’s another option, I don’t know what it is,” Bost said Wednesday. “I think you’re going to see closures now.”

Quinn wants to close Tamms and move its 236 inmates to other maximum-security lock-ups in Pontiac, Chester and Stateville. Inmates at Dwight would be transferred to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln.

Two juvenile centers will be closed, including the now-empty Murphysboro facility.

Bost said the judge may have ruled differently if the House had joined the Senate in overriding Quinn’s veto of money to keep the facilities operating.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, did not call the override motion for a vote when lawmakers were meeting in Springfield earlier this month.

kurt.erickson@lee.net / 217-782-4043

(3) comments

Maqs
Maqs

I have a relative who works at one these facilities. Not all we are told is true! I just hope Quinn realizes the children he has hurt in this process! He is like the Grinch in Southern Illinois this Christmas. He closed the district 22 state police office who always did Care Bears for children in this area. He has closed Tamms now which effected children in this area with some parents having to move in order to keep a job. Hope you had a merry Christmas !
Mr. Quinn. Grinch)

Bone
Bone

Just sad. Its over .

better think again
better think again

I am sure Quinn and his staff had done their research before a decision was made ! It just isn't done on a whim. The people of Illinois need to blame every single politician of the state for the financial problem. The politicians need to man up , quit blaming the higher political office's for problems in the state. All the nice new buildings and new govt vehicles are not needed at this time . Lets not forget all the strange grants that are still being given. I like all the new expensive tractors that are bought and sit off the sides of roads until the weeds bloom and are higher than the deer ! What are these state workers doing when not mowing, not doing minor road repairs thats obvious. Lets stop the spending habits for now and do what we need to do.

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